There she is. See her? That tiny black

Speck on the crater’s crumbling edge,

Just above the ledge where the New World

Falls away and tan becomes grey

With berries hissing and pouring into Victoria’s

dune-rippled heart.


See that dark dot? We made that – Man,

Women and men, thousands of them,

Worker ants in white coats or ties, eyes

Fat from days without sleep, creeping

Home after dawn from their offices, factories and labs,

Whispering “Sorry…” again as they slid into bed;

Another meal or birthday party missed.


See that ink spot on the edge of the abyss?

We made this! Built it by hand in spotlight-bright

clean rooms; we groomed, evolved apes

bent metal against its but to our will.

Imagine that… monkey paws

that once chipped flint and ripped

bloodied skins from spear-skewered prey

Now shape steel into wheels that rove across Mars!

Electronically embroidering silicon

Into miniature medieval tapestries

Of glorious silver and gold, they gently

turn wrenches, tightening bolts on panels and plates late

night after late night, weary but thrilled by

the sight of their dreams taking shape

piece by piece by piece by piece…


No, that’s no fleck on the lens,

That’s a metal Magellan exploring

An ocean of dust, sailing o’er rust-

Coloured cobbles and stones to stand

On the edge of Victoria and, hands shaking,

Roar at the pink sky “Ultreya!!”


One day men, women and children – Mars-born,

With faces pale from lack of sun and limbs lengthened

To long-fingered branches by their world’s

Begrudged gravity – will come to this place to

Stare at Her statue and be amazed,

Imagining the day when brave Opportunity,

Caked with dust and wearied from her trek

from Purgatory and over and through

A thousand deep dunes hauled herself to the edge

Of the Bay and said “Enough… let me rest here,

With the great sky above and gnarled, gargoyle-

Cluttered cliffs on all sides; let me hide

Here, peering down into this stadium of stone.

I am Home… let me sleep… Make me travel no more…”


See that mote on Mars’ sands? There we stand,

Each of us, each martian dreamer,

Fanatic and Fool. Our hearts are Her heart,

Her dust-dried eyes our own.

A mere machine is She no longer – if she ever was –

But a ship, as noble and strong as the creaking,

Slapping-sailed craft after which the great crater was named,

Carrying our hopes in her hold as she boldly goes

Where no ape-built machine has gone before:

To the shores of an amber-hued ocean of dreams.


There she is. See her? That tiny black

Speck on the crater’s crumbling edge.




© Stuart Atkinson 2006

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